Synthetic or Natural Tick Repellent for Dogs? What You Need to Consider

As a pet parent, your biggest concern is your dog's health. However, environmental enemies, such as ticks, can threaten your dog's well-being. Ticks not only irritate dogs' skin, but can also pass on dangerous diseases that could put their lives at risk.

You might have tried a few different tick repellents, including chemically based solutions, some of which have worked, and others that have not. Searching for a safe, yet effective natural tick repellent for dogs, can be overwhelming and confusing.

Here are three simple steps to follow when deciding between synthetic and natural tick repellent, so you can keep your canine companion safe and protected.

Step One: Know Your Options

There are many different kinds of flea, tick, mosquito, and fly repellents available on the market. The most commonly used tick repellents are the following:
• Spot-on Treatments
• Sprays
• Edible Supplements

Spot-on Treatments

These topical medications are applied to your dog's shoulder blades or neck. Once in your dog's sweat glands, the chemical is dispersed throughout your dog's body and can provide protection for 30 days. After the treatment has a chance to dry, it will stay effective even if your dog gets wet. The EPA has been regulating spot-on products more thoroughly after many cases of adverse reactions were reported, including poisoning and death. It's important to note that these products are toxic if ingested, and can also have adverse side effects on a dog's nervous system and skin. They also present a safety hazard to humans if the pesticides are accidentally contacted (e.g., through petting) or if the dog transfers the pesticides to furniture or elsewhere in the household where humans can come into accidental contact.

Sprays

Sprays are known to be effective at repelling ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, flies, and other bugs. Although bug sprays for dogs are considered a less expensive repellent, you need to ensure your dog's entire body gets covered. It is important to avoid getting the spray in your dog's ears, eyes, and mouth, so consider using a cotton ball for safer application around these areas. Negative side effects can include ocular burns, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and shaking.

Unlike spot-on treatments, which usually last 30 days, the length of time that tick, flea, and mosquito sprays are effective can vary by product. Therefore, carefully read the spray's product label for more information. Be sure to apply the product in an open area, where the chemicals will not get trapped and pollute your dog's environment. Unlike spot-on treatments, these products lose their effectiveness if the dog gets wet.

Oral Medications

Unlike sprays and spot-on products, no external application is necessary with pills and chewable tablets for tick prevention. Moreover, since this treatment is administered orally, it can quickly spread throughout your dog's entire body.

Side effects include skin reactions, depression, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting. Some oral repellents also do not prevent ticks; instead, they only kill the ticks after they have bitten a dog. Therefore, be sure to read all labels thoroughly. Another disadvantage of oral medications is that they tend to be more expensive, and require a vet visit and a prescription.

Edible Supplements

These supplements are mixed in with your dog's food, and are also available in chewable form. Therefore, no application process is necessary. Many of these supplements focus on natural ingredients such as garlic. Not only can the ingredients in these products repel ticks, but they can usually repel fleas, flies, and mosquitoes as well. As with other tick repellent products, it is important to read the supplement label carefully.

Step Two: Examine the Ingredients

While each of the tick prevention methods listed above has unique benefits, it is important to focus on the ingredients they contain as well. Some of the more common ingredients in tick repellent products include:

• Methoprene
• Pyriproxyfen
• Pyrethroid (Permethrin, Phenothrin, Etofenprox)
• Imidacloprid
• Fipronil
• Garlic, which is often found in natural tick repellent for dogs

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recommends using products with s-methoprene or pyriproxyfen if a chemical product is absolutely necessary to protect your dog from ticks. These chemicals are known to be less toxic, but could still result in potential side effects.

Products with pyrethroid-based chemicals, which are produced in a laboratory, were reported to the EPA more than other flea repellent products for adverse reactions such as seizures and heart attacks. When the chemical imidacloprid (a synthetic neonicotinoid) was tested, possible reactions included liver toxicity, lung and brain damage, and thyroid lesions.

The EPA has also investigated the ingredient fipronil, and found that kidney damage as well as thyroid, liver, and nervous system toxicity are all possible.

Garlic and other members of the genus Allium have been used as herbal medicines since ancient times. In addition to various health benefits, garlic-based products have also been used as a natural insect repellent and antimicrobial. Although there is sparse research on the toxicity of garlic for dogs, a Japanese study found that roughly 2 lbs. of raw garlic given daily over a week could induce temporary pre-anemic blood changes. This amount was more than the study dogs would voluntarily consume, and vastly greater than a typical (e.g., supplementation) consumption of garlic.

Other ingredients that are commonly found in natural flea repellent and tick repellent products include neem oil and other essential oils. While natural, these oils are not necessarily safe, as certain types of ticks, especially the brown dog tick. appear to be resistant to neem oil's effects.

Step Three: Experiment With Different Repellents

It is important to note that while all of the adverse reactions mentioned in the ingredients above are possible, many pet owners have used products with these ingredients without any problems. This is why the last step in finding the right natural tick repellent for dogs is experimenting with different repellents.

Every dog is unique; therefore, unless you test different repellents it is hard to determine whether a specific repellent is right for your dog. When choosing a repellent, keep in mind your dog's medical history and weight, as well as the time you have as an owner to apply these products properly. When you are testing a product, take steps to ensure the product is applied according to the manufacturer's directions. Moreover, keep a close eye on your dog for any abnormal reactions.

There are many synthetic and all natural flea and tick prevention products on the market, and it can be overwhelming to pick the one that is best for your dog. You might not find the best one right away. That is why it is important to implement other tick preventative measures. One measure is simply keeping your dog healthy. Ticks, and other parasites are less attracted to healthy animals.

By ensuring your dog is fed a nutritionally complete diet, inspecting your yard for tick habitats as well as implementing measures to reduce these habitats, and checking your dog for ticks on a regular basis, you are one step closer to giving your dog a safe, tick free life.

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I started giving my dog, Wally, Bug Off Garlic Chewables earlier this spring before ticks became an issue. Wally goes everywhere with me. We go on daily trail walks and hikes in areas infested with ticks. I'd previously been using Frontline Plus on him, but it wasn't lasting the 30 days it was supposed to. My vet said in order for it to work well on Wally I'd need to apply a treatment once every two weeks! This simply was not going to work, so I began looking for alternative ways to keep Wally flea and tick free year round. I'm so glad I found Springtime, and since starting Bug Off Garlic Chewables Wally hasn't had any ticks!

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"Flies just plain avoided us…"

Dear Springtime,

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Real Letters Bug Off Garlic Chews 2015 Verbeke Amber
No More Harsh Chemical Flea & Tick Treatments!

No More Harsh Chemical Flea & Tick Treatments!

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